Expulsion of Cuban envoy embarrassing – UPND

Filed under: Breaking News,Politics |

The UPND has described the decision by President Edgar Lungu to expel Cuban Ambassador to Zambia Nelson Pages for attending the launch of the Socialist Party as an act of intolerance to international support for democratic growth in the country.

And the Socialist Party has issued an apology to Ambassador Pages and the Cuban people saying the decision by President Lungu is not a true reflection of the aspirations of the Zambian masses.

Ambassador Pages has been told to leave the country within seven days after government accused him of breaching diplomatic etiquette and crossing a ‘red line’ by attending the launch of the Socialist Party on March 31 in Lusaka and wishing the party well.

But in a statement today, UPND chairperson for international relations Mulondwe Muzungu accused President Lungu of acting out of fear and insecurity, pointing out that it is not the first time a foreign envoy has attended a political party meeting.

“The unofficial and undiplomatic policy of “Falling on people with divergent views like a ton of bricks” has now been extended to the diplomatic community by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu. The expulsion of the Cuban Ambassador to Zambia, Nelson Pages, is an act of intolerance to international support for democratic growth in Zambia,” Ambassador Muzungu stated.

“The action further displays the ruling party’s propensity for confusion and miscalculation. This is not the first time an envoy of a foreign country has attended a political party meeting. The Patriotic Front itself, while in the opposition, invited the Ambassador of the United States of America then, Mark Storella, to their Party Convention in July 2011.

“He addressed the conference and congratulated Mr. Michael Sata after delivering his keynote address. What has changed now is that there is a fearful, bullish and insecure presidency in State House that does not tolerate political competitive space. In our view it is a decision that is based solely on hatred of the opposition that has capacity to offer alternative entrepreneurial and visionary leadership as opposed to dictatorial leadership that the Patriotic Front has become.”

Muzungu said the decision is embarrassing to the country and warned that it could have far reaching consequences.

“The UPND is of the view that the decision to expel the envoy was uncalled for and embarrassing to the Zambian people. A simple censure of the diplomat was enough if the PF feel so threatened. This expulsion will have far reaching consequences for this country. We all know that Cuba has been one of countries from where Zambia has greatly benefitted. The scholarships, the medical support and many other things that Cuba has provided to Zambia risk being jeopardised because of politics and insecurity. Diplomats interaction with the country is not limited to the Government, it extends to all stakeholders. By stakeholders it means the diplomats are free to interact with everyone they feel has a stake in the running of the country. This is the reason diplomatic missions are structures along the facets of general life i.e. political, economic, trade to mention a few. By its nature such relationship necessitates interaction with all relevant key stakeholders, for short of this, the Diplomatic mission risks being partially informed, misinformed or even ill informed. And it’s because the PF thrives on propaganda that they are uncomfortable with anyone who wants unfiltered information.”

He added: “Mr. Lungu’s accusation of the Cuban Ambassador having violated the Diplomatic Relations Protocol is wrong for nowhere in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is it stated or implied that the initiative such as taken by the Cuban Ambassador was in violation of the Diplomatic Relations Protocol.

“The support the Ambassador offered to the newly established Socialist Party should be seen as moral support to the growth of democracy in general. The intolerance and the dictatorship recklessly being extended to the global community as seen in several actions taken against other foreign dignitaries and officials such as Mmusi Maimane and others are not acceptable. Zambia is not an island. Every effort should be directed at building good relationships with the international community as Zambia is a member of the global community.”

Meanwhile, Socialist Party leader Cosmas Musumali says President Edgar Lungu’s “seemingly unfounded behaviour” over the launch of the Socialist Party is based on real fear.

In a statement issued yesterday centered on the expulsion of Ambassador Pagȇs from the country and denying entry into Zambia to nine international guests of the Socialist Party, Dr Musumali regretted government’s actions.

“This is essentially an expulsion of this Cuban patriot out of Zambia. The Ambassador, comrade Nelson Pages, is accused of having breached diplomatic etiquette and therefore crossed a ‘red line’ by shortly attending the launch of the Socialist Party on the 31st March 2018 in Lusaka and giving a congratulatory message,” Dr Musumali stated.

He stated that Ambassador Pages’ expulsion was, however, not an isolated act by “an insecure and desperate President”.

“Two days earlier, nine international guests to the launch of the Socialist Party were denied entry into Zambia. They were intercepted, interrogated, humiliated and impolitely sent away on subsequent flights out of the country. International protocol and travelling rights were blatantly breached,” Dr Musumali stated.

“This seemingly irrational behaviour of the President and his government over the launch of the Socialist Party is based on real fear. This is the fear of informed and political conscious Zambian masses, of a genuine revolutionary political formation with a credible leadership and that of international solidarity sympathetic to the plight of the people of Zambia.”

And Dr Musumali has apologised “on behalf of all progressive Zambian people” to Ambassador Pagȇs and to the Cuban people.

“The decision by the President is not a true reflection of the aspirations of the Zambian masses. We are saddened and ashamed of this uniformed and opportunistic decision. Comrade Nelson is and will remain a true friend to the Socialist Party and Zambian people. Our victory in 2021 is assured and we look forward to receiving him back in the country,” stated Dr Musumali.

“Similarly, we would like to convey our apologies to the nine comrades that were humiliated at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA). Their commitment to the spirit of pan-Africanism and the working class struggle was manifested by their humility in the face of all the injustice they had to endure on Zambian soil.”



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